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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reflections of the horror and the waste of the First World War, 9 July 2010
This review is from: The Poems of Wilfred Owen (Wordsworth Poetry Library) (Paperback)
If there ever could be such a thing as objectively good literature, this would get my vote. I cannot think of any other collection of poetry that moves me with so much immediacy, vigour, fortitude and dignity. For my part, I feel somewhat ashamed that I cannot read 'Dolce et Decorum Est', even to myself, without being overwhelmed. I have yet to be able to intone this poem without my voice cracking as the emotions overtake me. This is not poetry for the faint-hearted.

I am no pacifist and I deeply respect those who are willing to fight for our freedoms, but that doesn't mean that I have any eagerness for conflict - far from it. There is a wonderful line from Thomas Paine 'If there's going to be a war, let it be now while I'm young so that my child may live in peace.' But to quote Paine in this regard does an injustice to Owen and to Paine. The First World War was a blasphemy by any stretch of the imagination. It was, to my historically barely literate understanding, an imploding of European powers fighting for their own self interest, not a war of emancipation such as Paine was invoking.

The essence of totalitarianism is in the abnegation of poetry, not just in the literal, but in the metaphorical sense as well. Our lives. Our poetry.

If you are unfamiliar with Owen's poetry, may I urge you to try this book. It is more powerful and direct than I can convey. It is, in my opinion, one of the greatest works of literature and, for this reader at least, genuinely and greatly humbling.
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